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[personal profile] midnightdiddle
The Halloween bug bit me, and hard. So, uh, I wrote a Nightmare Before Christmas fic. Or rather, a series of vignettes. Under the belief I always had as a child: that Jack had once been human, and then died.

Three of them had died. One of them had never been born. Jack, the Mayor, Oogie-Boogie, and Sally. What it means to be alive (or dead).



Jack-- Our Will-o'-Wisp

He's been dead for a long time-- Longer than he was alive. Much longer. He can't remember much of before, when he had a heart and a brain and blood in his body. When he had flesh.

All that he knows is that it's been a long time. A very long time.

He's been dead longer than the mayor, or Oogie-Boogie-- Longer than almost anyone, except maybe the vampires. He can't remember if the vampires were here when he died-- came-- woke up a skeleton, became a Pumpkin King.

He calls it his childhood, and when he talks to Sally, sitting on their hillock, he says, "when I was a kid--"

He can't remember if they called him Jack, or Will-- A wisp of something. He remembers a farm, though, and marshes that stretched on the other side of the row of trees. Remembers dogs, horses, chickens in the yard. Remembers burning, the pain of skin burning, and a wisp of something.

And coming here, a long time ago. Coming here, dead, a skeleton with no skin or brains or heart, a wisp of something. And, when the vampires asked, "what's your name," saying,

"Will-- Jack. Jack."

And when their world was empty, just a handful of banshees fading away-- When they wanted a king, needed a king, a long time ago, when he was still newly-dead, still a little tired and confused, the feeling of fire in his bones, a wisp of something-- When they needed a king, someone to idolize and fear and follow blindly, like children in the marshes following a light (like him, wading through the water and muck, lost and trying to get home, and the light, and Will--), he remembers saying, "me."



The Mayor-- The Elected Official

They called him the Mayor, and listened to everything he said.

They called him the Mayor, and when the town fell apart, when there wasn't enough money or food or wood, he slit his throat.

Kings weren't the way to do things. Not mayors, either, when they weren't elected. He wasn't elected, that was the problem. His father had been mayor, and his grandfather, and great-grandfather, and when everyone's always been mayor, when you can't remember your own name--

"That's not the way to do things," he said nervously, when the vampires introduced him to Jack. "You can't just have a king, you need an elected official."

"An elected official?" Jack asked. "I've been here a very long time. What is that?"

"Like a mayor," he said, "someone the people elects. So that everyone is happy."

"A mayor." Jack blinked, big, empty eye-sockets, and the Mayor swallowed. "What's your name?"

"I--" he began, but he couldn't remember his name. Couldn't remember his father's, either, or his grandfathers, or great-grandfather's. Couldn't remember anything except the frost that came too early, before they had time to harvest the crops, before he had time to fetch supplies, before he had time to make things right. "Mayor."

"Ah," Jack said, and his mouth looked like a gash when he smiled. "Our Mayor."



Oogie-Boogie-- The Bug Man

He'd been born in Atlanta, and he died in Atlanta.

He was a fat man, smoking cigars he could never afford. The kids up and down the street called him the bug man, and the mothers always looked at him like he was disgusting, nasty. Like he was a bogie-man. A boogie-man.

He used to sit out on his porch in the afternoons, chomping on his cigar, watching the men walk home from work. And in the evenings, when the kids were going in for dinner, he'd walk down to a bar to play a few cards, throw a few die.

And, one time, he won a kid.

Saw the kid when he was walking home, sometime between the moon setting and the sun rising. Little snot-nosed kid, crying on the sidewalk in time so early it's still not morning.

He looked around, made sure there was no one on the street to see him. Hunkered down, a few feet away from the kid, and said, "hey."

He was a fat man, always smoking the cigars he could never afford. And kids, kids were soft and tender, flesh that melted in his mouth.

They called him the bug man, and when they sat him in the chair, strapped him in and put the helmet on his head, the wires on his arms and legs, he chomped on the air, because dead men can't afford cigars.

He crawls into Halloween Town in bits and pieces, maggots and beetles and milkweed bugs. He slips in through the cracks, and follows the kids home, and when the moon is full, and the street is empty, he pulls himself together, all his bugs crawling on each other. He lives in a burlap sack, at the very end of the street, and he chomps the air.

When Lock, Shock, and Barrel come, with shotgun holes through their heads and the too-knowing look all the kids in Halloween Town have, he leads them home. When he stands in his room that night, the moon pouring through the window and his shadow gambling on the walls, he can hear the kids arguing in the room above, and remember the taste of children's flesh.



Sally-- The Sawdust Girl

She was never born, so she's not alive, and she's not dead. She remembers Dr. Finklestein sewing her together, arms and legs and body, and she remembers learning how to walk. She remembers a lot of things, because she's still very new, and there's not too much to remember. So her sawdust head is filled with things, like Jack and the pumpkin patch and the way the moon looks yellow just before it sets.

She is made out of cotton and sawdust and threads pulled tight. She was never alive, not like the other monsters of Halloween Town, so she doesn't know what it feels like, to have blood and skin, or even bone. She doesn't know what it's like to feel hungry, or tired, or pained.

But, when Jack calls her friend, reaches out for her hand, she thinks she may know what it's like to feel loved.





HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
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